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Full text of "Slavery in the southern states"

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"SLAVERY 



IN 



THE SOUTHERN STATES. 



BY 



A CAROLINIAN. 



" Almost every human being has at one time or other of his life a portion of 
the happiness of those around him in his power, which might make him tremble 
if he did but see it in all its fulness." — The Claims of Labor. 



CAMBRIDGE: 

JOHN BARTLETT. 

1852. 



/ 

SLAVERY 



IN 




THE SOUTHERN STATES. 



BY 



A CAROLINIAN. 



" Almost every human being has at one time or other of his life a portion of 
the happiness of those around him in his power, which might make him tremble 
if he did but see it in all its fulness.''' — The Claims of Labor. 



•'copy 



CAMBRIDGE : 



JOHN BARTLETT. 
1852. 



. Ss^fJf 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852, by 

JOHN BARTLETT7 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 



CAMBRIDGE: 

METCALF AND COMPANY, 

PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY. 






The following article is published at the request of a 
friend of the author, in Boston, to whom it was sent as 
an answer to the question, What do you think of " Uncle 
Tom's Cabin " at the South ? It is published in the 
hope of inducing calmer thought on the subject of slav- 
ery than is likely to be the result of pictorial writing. 

August, 1852. 



" I cannot imagine a more splendid career, intellectually speak- 
ing, than that of a slave-owner in a slave state, who is thoroughly 
awakened to the difficulty of his position. — The Author of Friends 
in Council. 



To preach distant reform is very cheap philan- 
thropy, — the cheaper in proportion to the distance. 
The feeling of self-satisfaction exists without the 
necessity of personal sacrifice. Hence the temp- 
tation that betrays sometimes good men into ill- 
considered zeal. The danger is, that recrimination 
and bitter blood be the only result ; for those 
whose faults are held up for blame are tempted 
into the easy answer of pointing to faults " at 
home." And so such attempts at reform generally 
end in harm. We can call to mind no instance 
in which such intervention is friendly, or held to be 
friendly. Certainly not between those claiming to 
be equals in moral cultivation. England has suc- 
ceeded in putting an end to Suttee in India ; but 
Sir Henry Bulwer was sacrificed in Spain to In- 
tervention, and Lord Palmerston's foreign policy 



has ended in complaints that Englishmen are not 
safe anywhere on the Continent. Such must al- 
ways be the case as long as human nature has its 
weaknesses, and when these cease the reformer's 
occupation will be gone. A reformer need scarcely 
hope to achieve any usefulness unless those to 
whom he appeals are satisfied of his friendly dis- 
position, for which the best guarantee is his living 
among them. Another requisite for the reformer 
is the opportunity for self-sacrifice, which is the 
only proof of disinterestedness that will avail much. 
But his greatest power is such a complete ac- 
quaintance with the institution he attacks, and the 
character of those who uphold it, as will enable 
him judiciously to take advantage of what is good 
in them both, to aid him in grappling with the 
evil. For as there is no prevailing error which 
has not its leaven of truth, so there is no institu- 
tion which has not some natural fitness for the 
circumstances under which it has been developed; 
and hence we believe that no attempt at reform 
is wise which begins with intolerance. 

All these requisites to practical usefulness have 
been wanting in those who have declaimed against 
slavery and its abuses ; and consequently the effect 
of their declamations has been to give rise to re- 
crimination, until the North and the South know 



each other through their vices more familiarly than 
through their virtues. The consequence, too, has 
been excitement of feeling at the South, which, 
it cannot be denied, interferes with her calmness 
of judgment on many points of slavery. And, 
moreover, she has been led very naturally to turn 
to the bright side of the picture by way of relief 
from the many exaggerated horrors that are held 
perseveringly up to her, until she is apt to forget 
that there are in slavery, as in all social systems, 
many errors which only time, and caution, and 
serious thought, can correct. But it is time now 
for the South to have done with the weakness 
which has betrayed her into intemperate heat or 
carelessness. She is forgetful of her own dignity 
if she enters into a war of recrimination, in which 
the battle is not to the strongest, but to the most 
vulgar; or if she allows any misrepresentations 
from abroad to induce a frame of mind that is 
unfavorable to the discharge of her duties. She 
is unjust to herself if she is tempted by the 
bright side of her institutions to deny the dark- 
ness of the other. We know that she is school- 
ing herself to indifference to the violent Aboli- 
tion abuse of the North, and that what she has 
done for the elevation of the negro has not 
been under a pressure from without, but rather at 



k 



the suggestions of her own sense of duty. But 
still there lingers some weakness of temper, some 
over-sensitiveness, which betrays itself, we think, 
in public opinion, that is too quick to charge her 
own men with "unsoundness" on this question. 
"We would have her act up to the dictates of 
conscience, acknowledge her great responsibili- 
ties and all the rights of the slave, set herself 
earnestly to fulfil the duty that God has thrown 
upon her, and, as she yields nothing to the prej- 
udices of the North, yield nothing to her anger 
at their violent expression. 

" Uncle Tom's Cabin" is the latest attack upon 
slavery. The book contains all the arguments 
against the institution, vivified in dramatic scenes 
of great power, and made attractive by highly- 
wrought sketches, imaginative chiefly, though, we 
are assured, not extravagant. We may not doubt 
what we hear of its unprecedented sale, nor that 
its authoress has refused ten thousand dollars for 
the copyright. We confess to having read the 
book with much excitement, under the influence 
of which we wrote many pages in its refutation. 
But we soon felt that we had fallen into a too 
common error, and we tore up our pages at the 
suggestion of the preceding train of thought. 
We shall not make any question of love or hate 



with this book, but shall content ourselves with 
an effort to derive such profit from it as may be 
suggested even from the midst of its extrava- 
gance and injustice. 

The " moral end " of " Uncle Tom's Cabin " is 
to bring out in a strong light the evils of the com- 
plete dependence of one man upon the arbitrary 
will of another. We have a variety of vivid scenes 
to illustrate the power of the master in separating 
the families of slaves, in destroying their moral 
character, and in scourging them even to death. 
In these sketches her zeal has got the better of 
the authoress, and she has drawn a most wild and 
unreal picture of slavery. The consequence is, 
that the book, with its vast circulation, will do 
infinite injury. Its dramatic power will have no 
other effect upon the country than to excite the 
fanaticism of one portion and to arouse the indig- 
nation of the other. It will carry an erroneous 
picture of slavery to those who are only too 
eager to misunderstand, and will serve to confirm 
that increasing Southern opinion which sees only 
hatred and misconception of us at the North. Its 
well-seasoned horrors will give a new birth to 
Abolition apostles in factories and farm-yards, and 
its descriptions will furnish the materials of many 
an extravagant discourse, and be the household 



8 



talk of many a family circle. At the South it 
will hardly be read with toleration, and there is 
danger that the bitterness it engenders will make 
it of no service to the negro. 

Mrs. Stowe proceeds, after her manner, to de- 
nounce slavery because of this irresponsible power 
of the master. Her argument is a description of 
scenes such as we have never seen or heard of, but 
which, of course, we cannot undertake to deny. 
It is always easy to attack an institution by dwell- 
ing with emphasis upon its abuses. This error of 
fanatical reformers has been admirably illustrated 
by the remark, that they hold the abuses of a sys- 
tem so close to their eyes that they can see noth- 
ing beyond. Now we can allow Mrs. Stowe no 
monopoly of feeling, or even of sentiment (though 
the word is growing disreputable), when we hear 
of brutal wrongs committed by one man against 
another; nay, we shall perhaps go beyond her in 
reprobation of all abuse of that authority which 
God has given to the white man at the South 
over the African. But we know more of slavery 
than she does, though she has undertaken to tell 
all the world about it, and we refuse to take these 
things as a picture of the institution. We refuse 
to judge any system by extravagant pictures of 
the crimes that disfigure it. We are not ready 



9 



at the bidding of Mrs. Stowe, in this great ques- 
tion of slavery, to see only its occasional horrors, 
because we have seen Christianity always rever- 
enced in the world, though many stains of big- 
otry, and though the torture and the stake, have 
more than once obscured it ; because children still 
look up with love and honor to their parents, 
though crime has come of the parents' power ; 
because the marriage tie has brought untold hap- 
piness to men and women in spite of many sea- 
sons and places in which it has been mere mock- 
ery ; because the laws of property are respected 
still, though the oppression of the rich has wrung 
from the poor the bitter cry that " property is rob- 
bery " ; because we believe the mission of woman 
to be for peace and good-will, though we have 
read of the siege of Troy, and have known many 
modern Helens of the agitation-school ; because 
we see nothing without its evils, no Divine insti- 
tution that man has not defaced, no human in- 
stitution without its errors. It is in view of all 
this that we say that Mrs. Stowe has been unjust 
In dwelling with great skill and dramatic power 
upon the abuses of the system, and upon nothing 
beyond, she has given a most false and wrong 
impression of what slavery is. She has filled 
her Northern readers with a delusion. 



10 



She is concerned if we reject her deformed 
image of slavery, making answer to it as we 
have done, that these horrors are abuses, and 
are only occasional. Her defence, strongly and 
eagerly urged, is, that these abuses are " in- 
herent " in the system. She says, " There is ac- 
tually nothing to protect the slave's life but the 
character of the master. Facts too shocking to 
be contemplated occasionally force their way to 
the public ear, and the comment that one often 
hears made on them is more shocking than the 
thing itself. It is said, < Very likely such cases 
may now and then occur, but they are no sample 
of general practice.' If the laws of New Eng- 
land were so arranged that a master could now 
and then torture an apprentice to death, without 
a possibility of being brought to justice, would 
it be received with equal composure? Would it 
be said, c These cases are no sample of general 
practice ' ? This injustice is an inherent one in 
the slave system ; it cannot exist without it." It 
will be observed that this leads to quite another 
question than the infrequency of these abuses. 
We have insisted only upon their rare occur- 
rence, and for that reason have refused to allow 
her descriptions of them to pass for a picture of 
slavery. What she says about their being "in- 






11 



herent in the system" does not make her picture 
the less a misrepresentation. Is it a defence of 
the book as an argument against the institution? 
"We still insist that her argument might be turned 
against almost any existing institution, because 
there are none that provide altogether against 
those abuses which grow out of the evil passions 
of men. If we were to draw a picture of the 
miserable condition to which men and women 
are reduced in the great cities and manufactur- 
ing districts by the fierce competition which ena- 
bles the man of capital to hold " flesh and blood 
so cheap," and if, ascribing this to the liberal leg- 
islation that allows him to demand so much work 
for so little pay, we were to cry out against the 
present laws of property, our argument would not 
be more faulty than Mrs. Stowe's. How much 
of bitterest anguish may be traced to the power 
that coarse men are clothed with by the conjugal 
relation! If we were to cry out against matri- 
mony on this ground, and bring up for argument 
a score of pictures drawn from the worst phases 
of married life, we should outrage society ; and 
it would be a shallow excuse for us to point to 
the necessity of these things in the system. As 
there is in these instances, which might be indefi- 
nitely multiplied, danger of abuse of the power 



12 



which society gives to one man over another, so 
it would be absurd to deny the danger that there 
is of the white man's occasionally abusing the 
power over the black that has been placed in his 
hands. 

There is everywhere incompleteness in human 
legislation. A system of government which would 
raise a barrier against every evil disposition in 
man would be a clog about his feet. Such a sys- 
tem, based upon the evil that is in men, would be 
as Utopian as the system of Fourier, which was 
based upon the doctrine that every impulse is 
good and must have full play. Society would be 
burdened with no criminal code if systems could 
correct all the evil tendency of man's nature. 
But the necessary insufficiencies of legislation are 
the most fruitful occasions for the exercise of the 
virtues, which here play the part of the vis medi- 
catrix of nature. And they are taking a false 
view of any system, who ignore the existence and 
development of these virtues. If they wilfully see 
nothing but a tendency to abuse, they are turning 
away from all the good that corrects this tendency. 
In this matter of slavery, they are turning away 
from all the best instincts of men, and from all 
the charities that grow out of the relation. They 
are turning away from all the faithfulness and 



13 



affection that are aroused in dependants by a gen- 
erous use of power, from all the self-restraint and 
moral culture that may come from a consciousness 
of the possession of power, and from all the sym- 
pathy that comes from the sense of an obliga- 
tion to protect. 

And here we are reminded of our views in no- 
ticing Mrs. Stowe's book, and of the pledges we 
are under to derive what profit we may from any 
suggestions that may occur even in the midst 
of her extravagance and injustice. This point of 
the vast power of the master is where the whole 
weight of our duty and responsibility rests. And 
the answer we make to Mrs. Stowe reminds us of 
all that lies upon us in the way of duty, and ad- 
monishes us of all the opportunities for usefulness 
that are given to us. "While the slaveholder is bring- 
ing forward the above suggestions in defence of 
slavery, he will remember that he is going over the 
catalogue of his own duties. As we are eagerly 
urging that the good there is in human nature will 
supply the deficiencies of human legislation, we 
are claiming for the slave moral rights which arise 
from the absence of legal rights. And the more 
warmly our defence is urged, the more firmly are 
we binding ourselves to do our part. And es- 
pecially we are rejecting that easy Abolition Phi- 



14 



lanthropy that looks no farther than to a relief from 
all these duties and perplexities. The slaveholder 
who hopes to cut the Gordian knot by shrinking 
from the claims of his position is rashly throwing 
away opportunities for which he may be called to 
make his account hereafter. Shall we in supine- 
ness or in fear give up any position where much 
is required of us because of the danger that lies 
in our path ? Shall a king lay down his sceptre, 
when he may be the centre of blessings to all his 
people ? Shall the great ones of the earth volun- 
tarily give up the love that may wait upon the 
faithful use of their power ? Shall any man give 
up the ties of family, of society, because of the 
duties they bring, uttering the weak and wicked 
prayer, " These five talents, O God ! that thou hast 
given me, are too heavy upon me ; make me like 
unto thine other servants to whom thou hast given 
but one talent, from whom but little shall be re- 
quired " ? 

Mrs. Stowe does not note any of this profound 
sense of responsibility in the slaveholder. Indeed, 
it is a part of her argument to see nothing but 
blunted feelings, such as she would deprecate for 
New-Englanders. It is very true that the habitual 
sight of a class submitting to superior power ac- 
customs us to much that would shock the sensibili- 



15 



ties of strangers. But the difference between the 
two cases is, that we " have our poor always with 
us," while they who undertake to pity our want 
of sensibility are spared the sight of the poor that 
die all unheeded in their great cities. Is it alto- 
gether to their advantage that they should have 
the privilege of cherishing the sharp edge of their 
sensitiveness, while we are thrown into positions 
that daily increase our active usefulness, at some 
sacrifice, it may be, of romantic feeling? The 
claims of our poor are daily calling for the active be- 
nevolence of every slaveholder ; while it is only the 
humane few at the North whose feelings are ex- 
posed to the risk of being blunted by an acquaint- 
ance with the painful scenes of poverty in the next 
street or the next block. We know of no higher 
sphere of duty than is presented in the daily routine 
of our Southern women. We are sure that their 
home usefulness will not suffer by comparison 
with the philanthropy that leaves all untouched 
most abundant harvests at home, for distant fields 
where there is more to minister to a romantic sen- 
timent. If our humanity were of this stamp, we 
should be ever preaching crusades against the 
crime and disease and want that infest the lanes 
and cellars of New York and Boston. And we 
might with great propriety get up societies for the 



16 



recovery of the free blacks of New England, whose 
situation is such, if we may believe statistics, that 
their natural increase is only one twentieth of that 
of our slaves. 

But let us proceed to consider more at length 
this dependence of one man upon the arbitrary 
will of another. As this is the essence of slavery, 
and as the mere enunciation of it carries to most 
men condemnation of the system, we shall take 
pains to see whether there is not much exaggera- 
tion in the usual estimate of its evils. And if we 
meet with any success in this, we shall redeem 
our pledge to profit by the suggestions derived 
even from extravagance and injustice ; because 
the course of our argument will prove that the 
position of the slave does not necessarily make 
him the " chattel " that our Northern friends 
call him. And if we prove this, our argument 
will at once force upon us the necessity of un- 
remitting efforts on our part for his moral ele- 
vation, and will, at the same time, encourage us 
to persevere, by the proofs that his position is not 
incompatible with a higher moral culture than 
now falls to the lot of most of the overtaxed la- 
borers of the earth. It will show us that it is in 
reality only at the North that this " chattel " is 
not esteemed a man. And in urging that the 



17 



South has already raised her " chattels " far above 
the heirs of labor that freedom claims in the 
crowded districts of all the great centres of popu- 
lation, we shall be encouraged to hope that, if 
she be allowed to go on in the path she has al- 
ready entered upon, she may in the end be able 
to point to these her "chattels" as her "jewels." 
Already has the physical condition of the slave 
ceased to enter into the slavery argument, the Abo- 
litionists in general having given up that, to take, 
as they say, higher ground. Already does the 
teaching of the slave rank with the slaveholder 
next to his duty to his children ; and the prints of 
a solemn sense of responsibility are conspicuous 
everywhere. If we may judge by the churches 
that are rising every day for the simple worship 
of the negro, by the number of cultivated men 
and women who are bending to the task of the 
simplest instruction, or by the number of the slaves 
who are constant and eager attendants upon their 
churches and Sunday schools, we may not doubt 
that the labor of the much -pitied African is re- 
lieved by far more of religious culture than can 
possibly fall to the lot of those who are born to 
the heritage of toil, that begins with earliest child- 
hood, and endures, not only through the strength 
of life, but until its latest sands are shaken out. 

2* 



18' 

When it is admitted that the physical condition 
of the slave is so secure that he is not forced to 
tax his immature strength, or to exhaust his de- 
caying powers, even Northern fanatics should 
recognize that there is room for cultivation beyond 
the condition of the mere " chattel." We do not 
say that the South has done all that she might 
do to fill the vacant hours of the slave, but she 
is roused to the task that lies upon her, and we 
trust that she will not be diverted by an intem- 
perate zeal that would persuade her that slavery 
is incompatible with any elevation of the slave's 
character, but rather that a calm consideration of 
the arguments of her opponents will make her 
triumph over them by a more faithful discharge 
of her duties. 

In approaching this question of the dependence 
of one man upon another, we should remember 
that, in estimating the condition of the slave, we 
are to compare him with those who are appointed 
to do the hard labor of life, in regard to whom we 
are daily uttering the Pharisee's prayer, not as he 
did, but reverently, " I thank thee that I am not 
like unto these." And we are to remember, that, 
though America has not felt the effects of the 
excess of labor which is at the bottom of the 
great problem of the day in older countries, she 



19 



may see in them what she must one day come to. 
Her thinking men will inevitably be startled by 
the despairing tones of the simple claim, " I have 
nothing, you have much," and will have to con- 
fess to themselves the power of such a claim in the 
mouths of the starving. Let us not hope to es- 
cape the problem. It must come, for we are told 
that " the poor shall never cease out of the land." 
And already in America some of our great cities 
are beginning to show the effects of over-popu- 
lation, in radicalism and the occasional triumph 
of mob law. In poverty also and disease the poor 
are feeling the first approaches of the great strug- 
gle for existence, which ever comes as an attend- 
ant curse to the very centres of civilization. It 
is said that there is a district in Boston in which 
life is shortened by density of population to an 
average of 13| years, human beings being crowd- 
ed together at the rate of 441,500 to the square 
mile.* Such a fearful state of things is surpassed 
only in one district of Liverpool. The accounts 
that appeared a few years since of the cellar 
population in New York are scarcely less appall- 
ing. The thought of these things, of what has ever 
existed in the Old World and of what will surely 



Dr. Dickson's Life, Sleep, Pain, &c. 



20 



come upon America, will prepare us for the use 
of an argument from analogy, by which to find 
a counterpart everywhere for the objection which 
is held so fatal for slavery. 

Indeed, when we are once thrown into this chaos 
of the "false relations" of men to each other, 
there is no halting-place anywhere. There is food 
for gravest thought everywhere. " Do not be so 
vain of your one objection." " Do you think there 
is only one ? " Speculation leads on to specula- 
tion, until we are brought up at last by the hard 
question of the origin of evil. And we are al- 
most tempted to say, that it matters not what we 
have to do ; the only question is, with what spirit 
we do. " Can we not play the game of life with 
these counters, as well as with those ? " But to 
proceed. This power that slavery gives to one 
man over another is met with everywhere in so- 
ciety. Caleb "Williams ! Alton Locke ! Mary Bar- 
ton! Parliamentary Blue Books! Mining Districts! 
Manufacturing Districts ! Combinations of "Work- 
men! Combinations of Masters! — to which shall 
we point especially ? In all is the lesson of one 
man's power over another. Only yesterday the 
lesson was taught afresh, in the strike of the en- 
gineers' workmen in London. On that occasion 
labor fairly gave up, and acknowledged that the 



21 



power was with capital. In general it is only the 
abuse of power that makes the power apparent. 
It must always exist by the law that makes 
one man superior to another. No two men can 
stand together but that there is this between 
them, — the one to rule the other. You may 
make your laws to govern this and guard 
against its abuse. But have your laws done so 
yet ? Have they been of avail to help labor 
against capital, to make the hard man lay down 
the power that he feels over his neighbor ? And 
because of these things w T ould you unhinge all 
these "false relations" and begin anew? That 
is what many sects of reformers have striven for. 
St. Simon, Charles Fourier, Robert Owen, were 
men of the highest order of talent, but all their 
theories have been Utopias. Plato's model re- 
public lives only in the brains of dreamers. 

Another instance of the power of one man over 
another is that which society has, at the instinct of 
nature, given to parents over their children. This 
has in some countries extended even to life and 
death. It has always been an incalculable power. 
For it affects the whole life, and influences the 
destiny of children, besides that it bends their 
will in obedience. Its history has had its fatal 
passages. It has led to vicious education, false 



2S 



opinions, narrow prejudices, and how often to un- 
bridled passions, the fruit of over-indulgence. See- 
ing this unlimited power, and moved only by its 
abuses, many extravagant reformers have taken 
children altogether from their parents, and made 
them the children of the public. The Spartans 
pursued this policy, though not to the extreme, 
and some of the schemes of modern education 
have approximated to the same idea. 

But, it will be said, the great objection against 
slavery is that the power of one man over another 
is so irresponsible, so little restrained by law or 
nature. Let us see if there is not often in the 
lot of the free man a dependence that is more un- 
certain, more precarious and fatal, than the de- 
pendence of the slave upon his master. To begin 
with education. How completely is the tone of 
the mind dependent upon the accidents of birth 
or position ! The poor, unheeded boy, brought up 
in an atmosphere of vice, untouched by any single 
redeeming influence, literally at war with nature, 
a stranger to any virtuous precept, ignorant of any 
distinction between good and evil! The child 
crushed with too early labor ! The orphan thrown 
upon the careless bounty of the public! The 
young man whose facile mind is bent by tempta- 
tions that lead him into fatal opinions, political, 



23 



social, or religious ! If we think of these things 
which bend the growing nature irredeemably, we 
may well shudder at the dependence of men on 
the uncertain, precarious accidents of fortune. 
Many good men, looking mournfully at the temp- 
tations that beset us, and our feeble means of 
resistance, or at least at the strange disparities 
of fortune in this respect, have not scrupled to 
express their doubts of the retribution of an eternal 
punishment. And the same feelings, weighing 
upon the mind of Owen, made him boldly deny 
the responsibility of men. His theory of human 
irresponsibility leads, it is true, to absurd conse- 
quences ; but we speak of these views as the re- 
sult of an experience of how much in man is the 
creature of his surroundings, how much forms 
a part of his unconscious growth, and how subject 
he is to the uncertain influences about him. The 
plant that sends its root into the earth turns away 
from poisonous juices ; but the child has no such 
instinctive discrimination, and grows up upon the 
vice that fills its atmosphere. 

As far as the facilities of education go, the slave 
is secured at least from physical want, the great 
temptation to crime, from idleness, and from ex- 
cessive labor. And the growing spirit of religious 
teaching secures him from that dependence upon 



24 



immoral influences, which the mind unaided can 
so rarely resist. This growing spirit of religious 
teaching is a far safer reliance than the uncertain 
influences surrounding the poor laborers of other 
countries. It is fostered by a sense of respon- 
sibility in the master, by his Christian feeling, by 
the dependent condition of the slave, and by 
all the kindness that grows out of the relation. 
At the North, it has been thought a fanciful 
notion that the white man should regard him- 
self as the natural protector of the black. At least 
it will be granted that such an opinion will have 
its influence upon the moral education of the 
slave. An answer to much of this is ready for 
us in the taunt that we should not boast of the 
education of the slave as long as the reading of 
the Bible is shut out from him by our laws. "We 
shall be content to say on this point, that this 
furnishes us with another instance of the insuffi- 
ciencies of legislation being corrected by what 
we have called the vis medicatrix of nature. The 
slave's inability to read has given rise to a more 
kindly feeling, and to a closer connection between 
the races, than if each slave could read his own 
Bible. It has induced oral teaching; and the 
effect of this upon both races no man at the North 
can conceive. As a proof that the slave who 



25 



cannot read the Bible is not beyond the reach of 
religious instruction, we may recall the policy of 
Lycurgus, who refused to write his laws, that 
they might be the better preserved in memory, 
"We are sure that we need not repeat what has 
been so often said on this subject, — that the 
laws against reading were the only barrier we 
could devise against the flood of incendiary pub- 
lications that threatened our safety. The re- 
sponsibility must rest upon other shoulders than 
ours. 

Again, the education concluded, men are sub- 
ject to a thousand influences usually classed under 
the head of circumstances. And is this subjection 
so much less dangerous than the subjection of the 
slave to the unchecked passions of the master? 
What are these " circumstances " but the pressure 
of the jarring elements of society ? What, indeed, 
but the bad passions of men? The slave is at 
the mercy of a master, who must feel more or less 
the responsibility of his position. The freeman, 
who is weighed down by the inevitable ills that 
society is subject to, has no tyrant but the hard 
laws of demand and supply, stern and unchange- 
able. The one depends upon a master, whose 
interest it is to raise him up; the other can look 
up only to capital, whose interest is antagonistic 

3 



26 



to labor. The slave-owner has always before 
him the effects of his acts, and will be moved to 
pity by the sight of the misery that is caused by 
his thoughtlessness or violence. The poor man 
may be starving in his garret, while he whose 
thoughtless general order to diminish work or 
hasty dismissal of an inefficient workman, or whose 
prudent retrenchment of expenses, has been the 
cause of the misery, has said the word and passed 
on, in utter ignorance of how fatally his word 
has fallen, because there is no visible claim upon 
him, and the evil is far out of his sphere of life. 
Is the nature of the slave-owner harder than the 
accidents of good or bad seasons, upon which 
the lives of so many depend ? " Three wet days 
will bring the greater part of thirty thousand street 
people in London to the brink of starvation." * 
How many thousands depend upon the vices, or 
the follies, or the uncertain habits of society ! A 
vice corrected may many times afflict the masses 
with a widening circle of evil, that would make 
the newly virtuous shudder at the consequences 
of their reform. The sudden change of a morning 
or evening beverage, of a lady's bonnet or cap 
string, would reduce many men and women to 
helpless poverty. Labor-saving machines have 

* " The London Labor and the London Poor." 



27 



always been greeted with curses by the poor. In 
a work now in course of publication * we are 
told with much humor, but more true feeling, that 
the great chancery case of Jarndyce and Jarn- 
dyce, in the quibbles and subterfuges it gave 
birth to, was a source of corruption to many 
natures, while through its tedious length it was 
the bread that filled many mouths. All the 
mournful pictures which are charged upon so- 
ciety have this one pervading feature, the weak 
sinking under the pressure of circumstances that 
are beyond their control. As long as this force 
of circumstances has no conscience, is out of 
view, has no duty or responsibility, it is a more 
dangerous power than the slave-owner's. In a 
word, it is mere shortsightedness to talk of the 
power of the white man over the black in slavery, 
when the alternative is between that and compe- ^ 
tition between the races. The one is at least a 
degree of protection, the other would be extermi- 
nation, to the weaker. 

It is true, as Mrs. Stowe and others object, that 
the immediate dependence of the slave upon his 
master impairs the manliness and independence 
of his character. We are far from making the 
slave the hero of romance that Mrs. Stowe does, 

* "Bleak House." 



28 



and we grant much weight to the objection. But 
look into the crowded labor-markets, and see 
how men cringe and bow down in the midst of 
the excessive competition that assails them. The 
slave enjoys a monopoly of labor; but the free- 
man, who depends upon the occupation of the 
great and the little, has resort to the lowest flat- 
tery, and to arts that destroy his self-respect and 
must degrade his character. The evils of com- 
petition are not confined to the one hackneyed 
plague of the excessive reduction of prices. This 
is as nothing to the daily loss of character that 
we see involved, and in higher places, too, than 
among the poorest laborers. Surely the subjec- 
tion to the superior force of a master does not so 
debase the character as its voluntary sacrifice, 
its ready barter for office or profit. For there 
is more manliness in acknowledged obedience to 
superior power, than in the smiling subserviency 
of the sycophant, which makes the whole of life 
a lie. The general elections in England witness 
much vociferation of a sort which belies manli- 
ness of character. For the debates upon the 
ballot question furnish numberless instances of 
tenants whose farms depend upon the vigor with 
which they shout aloud what their hearts reject. 
And men are everywhere sacrificing what are 



29 



at heart their true convictions, to the standard 
of an uncompromising " public opinion." 

It has been well said, " Men are not corrupted 
by the exercise of power, or debased by the habit 
of obedience, but by the exercise of power which 
they believe to be illegal, and by obedience to a 
rule which they consider to be usurped and 
oppressive." 

It is constantly urged, that the slave has no 
sphere of action, that his faculties are crushed 
and his nature deprived of its proper development. 
We might pursue the argument from analogy, 
and point to spheres of life more contracted, to 
natures more debased ; but we have sufficiently 
indicated the course of such an argument, and 
leaving it now, we prefer to call attention to the 
error of those who are constantly pressing this 
argument. To " do the duty that lies immedi- 
ately before you " never suggests itself to the far- 
reaching philanthropy of these people, and thus, 
though they profess love to the slave, they never 
think to impress upon him that in every position 
in life there is a sphere of action wide enough for 
all men, if they are true to its requirements. In 
the narrowest circle of being, there is enough to do. 
There is capacity for improvement everywhere, 
as there is everywhere room for debasement. 



30 



Every station has its claims, and these we must 
freely and religiously fulfil, or there is no merit in 
us. Whether these requirements are noble or ig- 
noble, there is room for nobleness of nature in the 
spirit with which we meet them. The humblest 
martyrdoms are oftentimes the noblest. Hear 
Carlyle's eloquent definition of a freeman. 

" The freeman is he who is loyal to the laws 
of this Universe ; who in his heart sees and knows, 
across all contradictions, that injustice cannot be- 
fall him here; that except by sloth and cowardly 
falsity evil is not possible here. The first symp- 
tom of such a man is, not that he resists and 
rebels, but that he obeys. As poor Henry Marten 
wrote in Chepstow Castle long ago, — 

{ Reader, if thou an oft-told tale will trust, 
Thou 'It gladly do and suffer what thou must.' 

Gladly: he that will go gladly to his labor and 
his suffering, it is to him alone that the upper 
Powers are favorable and the field of Time will 
yield fruit. 6 An oft-told tale,' friend Harry ! all 
the noble of this world have known it, and in 
various dialects have striven to let us know it! 
The essence of all religion that was and that will 
be is to make men free. Who is he that in this 
life-pilgrimage will consecrate himself at all haz- 
ards to obey God and God's servants, and to 



31 



disobey the Devil and his ? With pious valor 
this freeman walks through the roaring tumults, 
invincibly, the way whither he is bound. To him 
in the waste Saharas, through the grim solitudes 
peopled by galvanized corpses and doleful crea- 
tures, there is a loadstar ; and his path, whatever 
those of others be, is towards the Eternal." 

If the Abolitionists were sometimes to point out 
to the slave this moral elevation, their title to 
philanthropists would not be so rudely questioned 
as it now is. If they would observe without 
prejudice, they would see that the best and most 
moral of the slaves are without exception con- 
tented and happy, disarming even the malevolence 
of bad masters ; not conscious of the pressure of , 
arbitrary power, as the greater number of citizens 
live under the laws without being conscious of 
their restriction. From such as these we hear 
no murmurs against fortune. For it is only rest- 
less and discontented spirits who charge society 
with all their ills, who look for a panacea in every 
reform, and are rabid for innovation, though it 
be any thing but improvement. The most in- 
dustrious of men are not Communists, nor are 
the best of women Bloomers. 

Mrs. Stowe's favorite illustration of the master's 
power to the injury of the slave is the separation 



32' 



of families. We are told of infants of ten months 
old being sold from the arms of their mothers, 
and of men whose habit it is to raise children 
to sell away from their mother as soon as they 
are old enough to be separated. "Were our 
views of this feature of slavery derived from Mrs. 
Stowe's book, we should regard the families of 
slaves as utterly unsettled and vagrant. If such 
were the case, we should not be prepared to find 
in the race that exquisite sensibility which Mrs. 
Stowe claims for it. For God in his wisdom 
" tempers the wind to the shorn lamb." And if 
African mothers were permitted such slight in- 
dulgence of the maternal affection, the maternal 
instinct would be mercifully blunted in them. 
The sensibility of those who live chiefly in the 
affections is very far more acute than that of 
case-hardened men of the world, of business, or 
of pleasure. The family affections yield to pur- 
poses of state. The blood that flows through 
royal veins is proverbially a cold current. 

We would not speak lightly of such an evil 
as the destruction of family ties. We deplore it 
as one of the hard necessities of the poor man's 
position upon the earth. In slavery we know 
that it exists as yet more than is necessary to 
the system. Every day, however, greater efforts 



33 



are made among us to lessen the evil. In the 
mean time we are fain to hope that there is 
not such misery as would follow a forcible sep- 
aration in favored families, whose life is alto- 
gether in their home feelings. And we know 
that even a forcible separation of children from 
their parents is a lesser evil than that children 
should have to curse their parents for such an 
education as they are in so many free countries 
left to pick up in haunts of vice and dissipation, 
while their parents are engaged in incessant labor; 
that it is a far less evil than that children should 
be taught by their parents to use their earliest 
lisping for lies of begging and imposture, or be 
driven out to bend their earliest industry to theft ; 
that it is a less evil than that premature toil 
should deform the body and debase the mind. 
We think it better that the maternal instinct 
should be blunted, than that it should lead moth- 
ers out to a life of vice for bread for their children. 
Such things too often happen in countries where 
the family affections have free play. The sta- 
tistics of poverty and crime have grown to be 
familiar reading. And every one will recognize 
in other states of society gloomier pictures grow- 
ing out of the family associations under the curse 
of poverty, than any which are caused by the 



34' 



separation of families. And be it remembered, 
that there is no separation like the gulf that opens 
between members of the same family when crime 
comes in between them. 

We feel confident that, if statistics could be had 
to throw light upon this subject, we should find 
that there is less separation of families among the 
negroes than occurs with almost any other class 
of persons. Among the rich, the pursuits of edu- 
cation, the claims of extended business, the facili- 
ties and inducements of travel, are all motives 
which do not enter into the case of the slave. 
It is true that the separation induced by these 
causes is voluntary, and not so complete as with 
the negro ; but such is not the case with the 
great mass of emigrants, and with the peasants 
of foreign countries. With these the separation 
of families is as complete and involuntary as in 
the case of the slaves, and, we think, more fre- 
quent. For these latter are subject to the com- 
mands of masters, among whom public opinion 
is very decided upon this point ; there is in general 
no inducement to separate families ; in sales, they 
are as far as possible sold together. On the other 
hand, in districts where labor is in excess, father 
and son would starve each other through com- 
petition, except for the resource of separation. 



35 



We should be glad to test by this favorite illus- 
tration of Mrs. Stowe's the truth of what we 
have said in reference to the dependent condition 
of the slave as compared with that of the labor- 
ers of other countries. We think that, if we could 
ascertain facts, they would uphold us in the as- 
sertion, that the will of a master is not a more 
precarious dependence than the hard fortune that 
usually besets the poor man's lot. For authori- 
ty, we may refer to Sir Charles Lyell's Travels 
in the United States. His observations upon 
slavery have brought abuse upon him, because 
they labor under the charge of being too favor- 
able. He says (Vol. II. p. 78), " I was glad to 
find my experience borne out by that of a Scotch 
weaver, William Thompson of Stonehaven, who 
travelled in the years 1841-42 for his health, in 
the Southern States. He supported himself as 
he went along by manual labor, and lived on 
intimate terms with persons of a different class 
of society from those with whom I had most 
intercourse." Thompson on his return home pub- 
lished a small book, in which (as quoted by Sir 
Charles Lyell) he asserts, that "the members of 
the same family of negroes are not so much 
scattered as are those of working-men in Scot- 
land, whose necessities compel them to separate 



36 



at an age when the American slave is running 
about gathering health and strength." 

Before concluding, we would speak of the moral 
tenure by which we hold the slave, and of the 
future. According to our conception of the ques- 
tion of slavery, we are practically concerned only 
with the facts of the case. Theories may help 
us to explain these facts, or they may give us hints 
as to the solution which the future may bring 
forth. But our duty is with what is immediately 
before us. 

We trace the African race through every stage 
of its existence, from its appearance as repre- 
sented upon the Pyramids of Egypt, to its pres- 
ent relations with the white man, and we find 
that here, in a state of bondage to a civilized 
and Christian people, it has approached nearer 
to civilization and Christianity than ever in iso- 
lation within its own tropics, or in any other re- 
lation with the whites. In slavery its condition 
is still improving. And thus it is our duty to 
keep them until, at least, we see a fairer future 
before them than any we could now dream of as 
the result of emancipation. Theories may strive 
to explain these facts ; they cannot explain away 
our duty as resulting from them. 

Human ingenuity has exhausted itself in specu- 



37 



lating upon the consequences of the contact of 
the different races of men. Life, which is defined 
as "the exchange of mutual relations," is said 
to be most perfect where the greatest diversity 
of elements is harmonized into one ; and we of 
the United States are pointed to as a confir- 
mation of the theory. Bat life, on the other 
hand, has been said to have no permanence ex- 
cept in the climate and under the circumstances 
where it first originated ; and we of the United 
States are pointed to as weak and unstable, 
wanderers from our natural homes, and destined 
to die out. Some speculators have said, that all 
enduring civilization has arisen after an impulse 
from abroad, that has roused the nations to ac- 
tivity of thought, as in England and the coun- 
tries of the Continent, in Ancient Italy and Greece. 
And De Tocqueville, with more subtile and strik- 
ing discrimination, says, " Whenever barbarous 
nations have derived knowledge from a foreign 
people, they have stood towards it in the relation 
of conquerors, and not of conquered." " When 
the side on which the physical force lies also 
possesses an intellectual preponderance, the con- 
quered party seldom becomes civilized ; it retreats 
or is destroyed." But while philosophy is in vain 
endeavoring to ascertain the relation in which 



38 



nations stand to each other, and theorists are 
endeavoring to solve our future and that of our 
slaves, our duty is before us, and not the less plain 
that ethnology has not yet thrown any light upon 
it. What we have to inspire us with confidence 
is, that, while contact with the white man has been 
annihilation to the Indian, it has brought elevation 
and religion to the negro. This is the ethnology 
that is most in point. 

We may be much concerned in the great ques- 
tion that is dividing the scientific world as to the 
unity of the race. Not that we would found an 
argument of right on superiority of nature. For 
whatever conclusion men may come to as to the 
diversity of origin of the races, none will ever 
practically doubt the great brotherhood of man. 
But perhaps the science which teaches us that the 
negro race has existed, with its present inferior 
physical organization unchanged, since 3500 years 
before Christ, — which has weighed the brain of the 
Negro, and classed it below that of the white man, 
— may connect with these physical inferiorities such 
a mental constitution as shall account for the fact, 
that the one race has never been so highly civilized 
as when under the guardianship of the other. If, 
on the one hand, the prospect of such a result shall 
incline us to kindness and forbearance, the possi- 



39 



bility that science will in the end place the two 
races on a level can have no practical bearing upon 
the obligations of our present duty. 

Whether the assurance of physical well-being is 
conducive to such a tranquil nervous condition in 
the negro as to constitute the most important ele- 
ment in his prosperity, or whether his condition of 
subjection in the Slave States saves him from fatal 
vices to which he is prone, the economists may one 
day settle. We are practically concerned only with 
the fact, that the natural increase of the slaves in 
America is far greater than that of the free blacks, 
— greater even than that of the whites. We quote 
from a pamphlet of " Randolph of Roanoke," re- 
viewed in De Bow's Review, November, 1850. 
" That the white population of the United States 
about doubles itself in every period of twenty- 
five years (here the immense immigration must be 
considered). That the slave population of the 
United States more than doubles itself in thirty 
years from the natural increase alone. That the 
free negroes of the Southern States double in about 
thirty-five years from the natural increase alone. 
That the free negroes of the Northern and Western 
States double in about every period of forty years 
from the natural increase alone. The free negroes 
of New England have dwindled and dwindled, 



40 



until they have almost reached a stand-still. Their 
annual increase amounts to but one tenth of one 
per cent. They could not double themselves at 
that rate -short of four hundred years." 

We are tempted sometimes to rest upon the 
necessity of compulsory labor in hot climates as 
the best explanation of the facts which slavery 
presents to us. For in the favored (as the phrase 
goes) climates men are without any stimulant to 
exertion. Nature yields an easy sustenance without 
the necessity of sustained labor. Two or three 
days' work in the week is sufficient to acquire the 
means of existence, and the capacity for labor is 
lost by idleness during the other listless days, 
There is no hard struggle with difficulties to brace 
the muscles of the body and to develop the char- 
acter. There is no barren rock to conquer by hard 
toil, — - toil which is to gain for man the mastery 
over himself, to teach him earnestness and strength 
of purpose and self-restraint. Hence it is that mod- 
ern civilization has departed from those soft south- 
ern latitudes where its seat was of old, and where 
the severe and patient toil of agriculture was 
achieved by compulsory labor. As soon as labor 
became free, its greatest triumphs were in colder 
regions and on harder soils. Hence it is that in- 
dustry has been paralyzed by emancipation in Ja- 



41 



maica ; and the French colonies in the West Indies 
are threatened with the like bitter fruits from the 
coup de sentiment of 1848. Hence it is that Africa, 
except by the aid of slave labor in Egypt, has done 
no work upon God's earth. In contrast with the 
general character of laborers in hot climates are 
our slaves, inured to continuous toil, increasing 
more rapidly than their free brothers, and rising 
every day in civilization and religious culture. It 
is surely another instance of the value of labor, 
which, as it is the destiny of man, has ever been 
his redeemer. In contrast with the scanty results 
of the race elsewhere is the great staple of our 
Southern States, a vast product, which gives a dig- 
nity and a value to negro labor such as it can 
nowhere else lay claim to. 

We would not in these remarks be understood 
to rank our Southern States with the tropical cli- 
mates, which paralyze the energies of men. We 
have had reference only to the African, whose con- 
stitution in America has not undergone any ma- 
terial change from its natural adaptation to the 
tropics. We see that, in unrestrained competition, 
the white man among us is superior to the negro, 
slave or free, in all labor in which our malarious 
fevers do not interfere with him. And this not by 
reason of the physical debility caused by the cli- 



42 



mate, for in that respect the negro is less oppressed 
than the white man. Hence our meaning is, that 
the sluggish, nervous organization which is un- 
affected by the heat of our suns and by our mi- 
asms may require the stimulus of stronger motives 
to exertion than the love of physical well-being 
would afford in a country where existence itself 
is comparatively easy and cheap. In the white 
man, on the contrary, it may be that greater ner- 
vous energy and a more sensitive organization 
make him obedient to impulses that would fail 
to move the negro. But we repeat, all this is mere 
speculation, hazarded as an explanation of the 
facts that slavery presents to us, the facts them- 
selves being our only teachers of duty until a 
clearer light be thrown upon the subject. 

It has been often suggested that a noble mission 
is designed for the slaveholder, in making him 
the means of civilizing Africa through the agency 
of the slaves on this continent. If there be any 
thing in this suggestion, the ill-success of th*e 
Liberia scheme, and the recent resolutions of the 
free negroes at the North, claiming a right to their 
share of this continent and refusing to be ex- 
patriated, show that it is too soon yet for any 
practical efforts in this direction. But we should 
not forejudge the question, and if this idea be 



43 



borne in mind, it will give additional encourage- 
ment to the slaveholder in the performance of 
his present duties to the slave. 

We have written with a hope to prove that the 
slave is not by his position necessarily below the 
reach of moral and religious cultivation. Our 
object in this has been not so much to answer 
the objections of the opponents of slavery as to 
prove for the slaveholder that his dependent laborer 
is capable of better things than the world would 
have him believe, and especially to remind him 
that whatever arguments he urges in favor of 
the slave's position are all of necessity so many 
pledges for the faithful discharge of his own duties. 
For the truth of our views we appeal to the future. 
Not in any vain confidence of the result ; but for 
the present, at least, with hope. As long as we see 
that, with the great mass of laboring men, labor 
is in the way of intellectual or religious education, 
the question is not decided against us. For there 
is room to hope that the present insufficiency of the 
slave's education is not the result of his servitude. 
Should the world leave us behind, and the great 
majority of laborers be taught to combine all ne- 
cessary labor with a due degree of elevation of 
character, we shall then have reason to fear that 
the slaveholder is standing in the light of the slave. 



IX 



44 



Upon the solution of this question depends the 
future of slavery. If the relation between master 
and slave is clearly proved to be incompatible with 
Christianity, the problem will then be to discover 
the safest and speediest severance of the tie that 
now so forcibly binds them together. But even 
then, it will not be the slaveholder's duty to brush 
the slave away from his path, as the white man 
in America has done the Indian. "What though 
Mexico and the Amazon valley shall receive a 
feeble remnant, the responsibility will be none the 
less upon those who were impatient of their bur- 
den. Whatever is done, then, should be done with 
caution and forbearance, carefully guarding against 
two different and equally dangerous impulses ; the 
one, the selfish desire to be rid of an evil ; the other, 
the rash conclusion that any sacrifice that counts 
in money is worth what it costs. " Something 
more than liberty is due from the master to the 
slave " ; and a large debt may be owing, though 
twenty millions sterling be paid in " liberty." 

If, on the other hand, as the tendency of things 
encourages us to hope, that part of the African 
race which has been transported to America is 
to become a truly Christian people by means of 
the missionary efforts of their masters, their fet- 
ters will not be suddenly struck off. But they 



45 



will gradually cease to be felt. For the change 
will be wrought through the Christian virtues of 
the slaveholders, and the relation will then be a 
tie of sympathy between the two, " reasonable ser- 
vice " required by one, and cheerful obedience 
granted by the other. " Christianity," says a late 
Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, "knew 
that where the spirit of Christian love is infused, 
there the outward form of slavery not only loses 
its terrors, but becomes capable of generating great 
virtues." * 

We are reluctant to seem to admit the possi- 
bility that the relation of slavery should necessarily 
exclude the attainment of Christianity by master 
or slave. For, on the contrary, we think there is 
much in slavery, if rightly appreciated, that is 
eminently calculated to give rise to the Christian 
virtues. For it is the only system of labor in ^ 
which a recognized moral obligation enters into the 
contract. In slavery, if its whole scope be prop- 
erly appreciated, society is held together by the 
ties of moral duties clearly defined, instead of de- 
pending upon that cold irresponsibility that pre- 
sides over the traffic for labor in the great labor- 
markets. They taunt us with the traffic in flesh 

* SewelPs Christian Politics, p. 323. 



46 



and blood ; but how is the reality ? The South- 
erner who buys his slaves at the auction-table is 
buying with the conviction pressing upon him 
that his property comes to him with weighty 
claims of humanity and of Christian duty that 
must not be denied. The capitalist who bids for 
labor abroad buys the sinews and muscles of 
the man, and there the contract ends. If the pit- 
tance per week be insufficient for wife and children, 
it is nothing to the capitalist, for there is no ob- 
ligation on him beyond the payment of the wages. 
They taunt us with owning the slave, body and 
soul. Yes ! We would have the whole South 
feel that the soul of the slave is in some sense in 
the master's keeping, to be charged against him 
hereafter. The great marts of labor abroad are 
not so encumbered ; flesh and blood are bartered 
away, but no man who buys is oppressed with 
any thing beyond. They taunt us with denying 
all legal rights to the slave. Theirs is the hard 
letter of the law, — nothing that is not "in the 
bond " ! With us the moral code becomes positive 
law where legal rights end. Society ceases to be 
a state of war; because a new element is intro- 
duced, an element which secures protection for 
the poor and demands forbearance from the rich, 
its principle of authority being an ever-present 



47 



and well-defined moral obligation, which, as a 
security for Christian action, is in strong contrast 
with the stern demand-and-supply principle. 

It is impossible as yet, whatever be our preju- 
dices or prepossessions, to decide this question of 
how far slavery will prove conducive or antago- 
nistic to the development of Christianity in the 
slave ; for the South has not put forth her 
strength in her task of regeneration. In the first 
place, there is an external necessity upon her to 
deny to the slave the advantage of reading, an 
advantage which oral teaching may supply the 
place of for a season, but which will be demanded 
in the end by the increasing wants of the negro. 
And, in the second place, the difficulty of this 
whole subject, added to the bitterness caused by 
fanatics at the North, has made the South fearful 
of any rash efforts, and cautious even to neglect, 
perhaps also over-sensitive. We have seen an 
analogous state of feeling among the better classes 
of Englishmen, who, until lately, have feared to 
tamper with the question of the poor, and their 
education. They have shrunk from it as a subject 
beyond their ken. They feared to touch it at all, 
lest a wrong step might involve inextricable ruin. ^ 
And they so anxiously discountenanced all discus- 
sion of the labor questions, that those subjects, 



48' 



which in France were giving rise to much pro- 
found thought and careful study, had no place in 
England but among Chartists and Socialists. 

The South has, however, within a few years, in- 
stead of quietly accepting the conclusions of the 
world without, been earnestly pressing for a solu- 
tion of the problem required of her. If she can be 
spared the suggestions of a violent philanthropy 
that outruns her well-considered plans of reform, 
she may hope to develop the moral question of 
slavery cequo pede with the economical question. 
It may be that our prejudices and our experience, 
which has never been fruitful of horrors, influence 
our judgment; but we think that heretofore the 
moral and the economical aspects of the question 
have been quite in accordance with each other. In 
morality, it is beyond a doubt that, though slavery 
be not a necessary condition of labor, it is the only 
one under which the African can exist in the South. 
Because, were he exposed to free competition with 
the white man, the difference of organization is so 
great that the one race would be crushed by the 
other. Hence this protection which slavery gives to 
the negro is the most humane provision that can be 
made for him, at least for the present. Economi- 
cally, we arrive at the same result. For whilst the 
necessity of protection to the slave's labor contains 



49 



the inference that such labor is not in all occupa- 
tions the cheapest, yet experience proves that 
slavery is the only means of deriving profit from 
the presence of the African among us, and the only 
means of producing the great staples that are 
suited to our soil and climate. For the slave labor 
that is valued at eighteen cents a day in Jamaica 
is the sluggish labor of a few hours only. 

There is another view to be taken. The three 
millions of bales of cotton that are now grow- 
ing, every pound of which is looked for anxiously 
by the consumers, is of incalculable influence upon 
the stability of the system. The thousands in 
this country whose interest is bound up in the 
growth of this great staple, the uncertain mass 
of English operatives whose lives hang upon the 
supply, and the result to English society in case 
of any sudden disorganization of labor, — all these 
things demand the attention of thinking men, 
and will check the extravagance of any but the 
And the field for cotton goods, 
j enlarging, as the East is answer- 
itient calls of commerce, gives no 

| j peedy check to this vast power of 

the produce of the slave. And, again, there is in 
slavery, economically considered, a great element of 
permanency in the fact that a due recompense is 



50 



secured to labor. The philosophy that startles us 
by the conclusion that " property is robbery," is the 
offspring of a state of society in which labor is 
inadequately rewarded ; and such a doctrine will 
continue to disturb society as long as labor can 
scarcely purchase life. A favorite argument against 
the organization of labor in slavery is, that all men 
have a natural right to the fruits of their own labor. 
But perhaps there is equal truth in the Socialist 
doctrine, that all men have a natural right to life in 
return for labor. And there is more of permanency 
in the system which denies the former doctrine 
than in that which denies the latter. 

Amidst all the perplexities and uncertainties 
which shroud the future, we may hold this for cer- 
tain, that slavery will serve a great purpose for the 
negro, Whether he be destined to rise to an 
equality with the white man, and to break the 
fetters which bind him, as in that case he will most 
assuredly do, whether he is to continue for a long 
time yet as a laboring class bound to the white 
man in a peculiar relation, " generating great vir- 
tues" and becoming a relation of kindliness and 
charity, or whether, as some who rate him lowest 
suppose, his destiny is to be always driven to un- 
willing labor, a school of discipline is undoubtedly 
his greatest present need. Labor, even though it 



51 



be unwilling labor, is a thousand times better for 
him than the careless indolence or vice which our 
latest information from the scenes of British phi- 
lanthropy details as the effects of premature free- 
dom. The following eloquent sketch of the uses 
of labor, from the pen of Dr. Channing, is of such 
universal application, that we are tempted to quote 
it in confirmation of our views. 

" I have faith in labor, and I see the goodness 
of God in placing us in a world where labor 
alone can keep us alive. I would not change, 
if I could, our subjection to physical laws, our 
exposure to hunger and cold, and the necessity 
of constant conflicts with the material world. I 
would not, if I could, so temper the elements 
that they should infuse into us only grateful sen- 
sations; that they should make vegetation so ex- 
uberant as to anticipate every want, and the 
minerals so ductile as to offer no resistance to 
our strength and skill. Such a world would make 
a contemptible race. Man owes his growth, his 
energy, chiefly to that striving of the will, that con- 
flict with difficulty, which we call effort. Easy, 
pleasant work does not make robust minds, does 
not give men a consciousness of their powers, does 
not train them to endurance, to perseverance, to 
steady force of will, that force without which all 



52 



other acquisitions avail nothing. Manual labor is 
a school in which men are placed to get energy of 
purpose and character, a vastly more important en- 
dowment than ah the learning of all other schools. 
They are placed, indeed, under hard masters, — 
physical sufferings and want, the power of fearful 
elements, and the vicissitudes of all human things ; 
but these stern teachers do a work w T hich no com- 
passionate, indulgent friend could do for us, and 
true wisdom will bless Providence for their sharp 
ministry. I have great faith in hard work. The 
material world does much for the mind by its beau- 
ty and order ; but it does more for our minds by 
the pains it inflicts, by its obstinate resistance, 
which nothing but patient toil can overcome, by its 
vast forces, which nothing but unremitting skill and 
effort can turn to our use, by its perils, which de- 
mand continual vigilance, and by its tendencies to 
decay. I believe that difficulties are more impor- 
tant to the human mind than what we ^ o11 asmst* 
ances. Work we all must, if we mr 
out and perfect our nature." 

And the labor to which the slave i 
his present discipline is not excessive ; for it is 
proved to be compatible with an almost unprece- 
dented natural increase of the race. The scene of 
his labor, moreover, is in the midst of those who are 



53 



far above him in mental cultivation and Christian 
feeling. And, finally, his state of dependence upon 
this superior class is such as to arouse in a peculiar 
degree a disposition to teach and to elevate the 
laborer whose entire service is due to them. Tak- 
ing these things into view, it is not extravagant to 
assert, that, if there be any good in human nature, 
slavery may be made to minister to great ends. 
And we hope that, as " the thoughts of men are 
widening," more justice will be done to an institu- 
tion, which, if it disappears because of an increased 
energy and higher character in the blacks, will have 
had its day of usefulness, as the source of that 
energy and that elevation of character. 



i 



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